So the news this week has been coloured in History with Democracy Day and the Jew Freddie Knoller who was offered a job by the Nazis. What did catch my eye in the news and it made me feel like screaming was the news of the Royal Mint's new £2 coin depicting King John signing the Magna Carta in 1215.
First I'll explain myself why this news terrified me. King John DID NOT sign the Magna Carta. As with most royals in the 13th Century, King John did not hold a quill and put pen to paper with important documents such as this. They stamped their royal seal on the document with hot wax.
This is why I thought that for this blog post it would be interesting to cover the subject of King John and Magna Carta. My first interest in this subject developed in my second year of University whereby I had to take up the subject of Medieval England (it also helped having a hall mate on the same course who was in love with King John....) Most probably remember King John as that funny Lion character who called for his mummy and sucked his thumb out of Disney's Robin Hood.
The real King John wasn't far off the mark really.
In my opinion, King John has certainly been one of our worst kings to date alongside Richard I and mad King George III just to name a couple.
King John or John Lackland as he was known by some (1167-1216) was the youngest of three. His brothers were the Lionheart Richard I, William Longespee (3rd Earl of Salisbury) and Geoffrey Plantagenet. His sister was Matilde Plantagenet. It has become very difficult to talk about King John without comparing him to those around him. for example, let's take Richard I the Lionheart. as the name Lionheart suggests Richard is remembered for great things such as the Crusades, in particular the Third Crusade and the battle for Jerusalem with Saladin. Many would perhaps see Richard as a great King (although I would argue against this). This is because, unlike his brother Richard, John was responsible for losing vast amounts of territory (earning him the name 'Lackland'. However this is not all that he is remembered for. We must also include the fact that he spent copious amounts of money leaving England in a great deal of debt. These were just a few things that led the barons of England to force John's hand in 'signing' the Magna Carta. It was the first for the barons in asserting control of their monarch and the signing of the charter at Runnymede was also the foundation of our modern day Houses of Parliament.